Revising traffic rules

Franz Liechti, Table View

Mari Mocke is correct with her statement (“Be patient with pedestrians”, Tabeltalk letters, May 4).

Reading the letter, it makes me wonder if you now can obtain a drivers licence by paying some money and not going through any (driving) test since discipline is a word unknown to many motorists as well as pedestrians because hardly anyone sticks to the law and road traffic rules.

According to the road traffic rules, if a motorist turns when the arrow is green for them, then the motorist has right of way and the pedestrian lights should be showing red. If the traffic lights show just normal green (no arrow), as at the intersection of Blaauwberg Road into Pentz Drive, the motorist turning has to give way to the pedestrians crossing the road as the pedestrian lights may be green/red flashing and they (the pedestrians) are allowed to do so.

One other observation I made is the fact that the pedestrian lights show the “green men” only for about six seconds, then it changes to red light flashing for approximately 12 seconds. During that 18 seconds one has to cross three traffic lanes and one bus lane. Time may be too short for elderly and disabled people as they start to rush when the pedestrian lights change to red flashing.

I have made my observation known to the Cape City Council (Brett Herron) months ago but never received a reply. Nothing has changed regarding the time setting for the traffic lights.

It seems like arrogance of the particular department or even of the City Council not to listen to the public and to think about changing something for the better.

* Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport, responds:

The majority of the traffic intersections across the city have a parallel pedestrian control system where pedestrians enjoy legal right-of-way over motorists during the green and flashing red man signal phases, meaning turning vehicles have to wait while pedestrians are crossing the road. It is true that drivers become impatient and often ignore this legal obligation.

However, I must also state some pedestrians are also impatient – they either do not wait for the green man before crossing the road; or they do not cross the roads at pedestrian crossings but prefer to take short-cuts, weaving in between cars and crossing streets in front of oncoming traffic and MyCiTi buses. It is the City’s responsibility to maintain traffic signals and road infrastructure and to implement design principles that are conducive to the safety of all road users. We cannot, however, accept responsibility for the general disregard for traffic rules by road users.

The City is, however, introducing exclusive pedestrian crossing phases at various places, notably the Cape Town CBD. Due to the significant number of pedestrians in the Cape Town central business district, the City has, over the past 14 months or so, implemented exclusive pedestrian control systems at busy intersections. At these intersections all of the vehicles are kept stationary while pedestrians have the opportunity to cross the road. Thus, unlike parallel pedestrian signal control systems where turning vehicles and pedestrians are competing for the same road space at the same time, exclusive pedestrian control gives pedestrians their own allotted time in the signal cycle. They therefore enjoy a protected and safe opportunity to move through the intersections.

The pedestrian crossings over Blaauwberg Road at the Raats/Pentz Drive intersection are exclusive as they never conflict with any vehicle movement. These phases also appear more than once in the signal timing cycle if requested by pushing the pedestrian button. This reduces the time spent waiting to cross, particularly to the Table View MyCiTi station.

The crossings over Raats and Pentz Drives are not currently exclusive but operate in parallel to the traffic movements on Blaauwberg Road.

Conversion of these to exclusive phases will be re-evaluated and will likely result in a significant decrease in overall efficiency of the intersection which is already under severe pressure.

A total of 25 seconds is provided for the crossing of Raats and Pentz drives by pedestrians, made up of five seconds green and 20 seconds of flashing red. The length of the flashing red man is set for a walking speed of 1.2m a second which is generally sufficient to complete the crossing. We do find that many people assume that they should have finished crossing by the time that the red man begins to flash. This is not so. A person who begins to cross during the green man has the full length of the flashing red man to complete the crossing and enjoys right of way over vehicles for that time.